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Empty Homes Charity Helps to Ease the Housing Shortfall

by Alison Feemantle

As pressure to address the housing crisis in the UK grows stronger and stronger, new solutions are starting to emerge that could help to ease the strain.  According to UK charity Empty Homes, there are currently 1.7 million families on council housing waiting lists and that figure continues to grow.  The UK population is growing and yet house building rates have not been this low since the 1920s.

It Could Cost as Little as £10,000 to Renovate an Empty Property

New ideas come and go on how to ease this problem, but one idea that can’t be ignored is the idea of reusing the thousands of homes currently standing empty across the UK.  Empty Homes has spent a great deal of time collating local council statistics and estimate there are currently 720,000 empty properties in the UK.  Renovation of each property could cost as little as £10,000.  With new-build homes at an all-time low, this seems like the ideal solution to the shortfall in available housing.

Thousands of Properties Ready to Be Renovated

Often these properties are privately owned or properties that have fallen into disrepair.  Some have been inherited by owners who simply don’t have the resources to renovate the property.  Whatever the reason, it’s apparent that many of these homes could be made habitable for the thousands of families desperate for accommodation and that’s exactly what Empty Homes sets out to achieve.

Empty Homes was first established in 1992.  Over the years they have acted on behalf of those individuals and families desperate for somewhere to live by challenging Government policies and suggesting ways to take advantage of thousands of empty homes.  One of the largest problems faced by the owners of these empty properties is the lack of funds to renovate and repair them.  Empty Homes successfully campaigned for tax-breaks for these owners helping them to raise the funds to make them habitable once more.

Help Empty Homes to Rehome Thousands of UK Families

On a local level, Empty Homes is helping thousands of individuals to bring homes back into use. On a national level, every council in the UK now has a named officer whose responsibility it is to restore empty homes back into habitable condition.  These are just some of the initiatives that Empty Homes has addressed and they plan to continue working with home owners and local authorities to help ease the housing crisis and help the thousands of people desperate for a place to call home.

Empty Homes provides a wealth of free advice and assistance to those looking to renovate an empty property and to those looking to invest in empty property.  You can also report an empty property through their website so they can investigate further.

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The Big Council Sell Off

by Sarah Halloran

St Giles Hospital in Camberwell is set to be sold by NHS Southwark.  With its imposing turrets, wrought iron gates and clock tower you would be forgiven for thinking this Georgian hospital was way outside the budget of your average house-hunter.  Whilst the price has not been announced yet, this Grade II listed building is set to be one of the bargain historic buildings on offer as part of a country-wide ‘sell-off’ by local councils.

Conisbrough Priory near Dorchester, the public swimming baths in Rotherham, and two large Georgian terraces in Greenwich are also amongst the buildings that will be on sale.  Property investment experts said shrewd house-hunters could snap up a real bargain as a result of the ‘Big Council Sell Off’.

Let’s take a look at those prices then.  Doncaster Council has given Conisbrough Priory a guide price of £275,000 whilst the swimming baths in Rotherham are up for a measly £150,000.  Lluesty Hospital in Wales was sold at auction earlier this year for £275,000.  The classical hospital building, which comes complete with a parapet and its own court yard, was snapped up by a group of property developers with huge plans to build 70 houses within the grounds.

According to auction houses based in London and Yorkshire, over 100 properties have been put up for sale recently by a number of councils.  And it’s not just local authorities that are getting in on the action.  Central Government is having a stab at reducing its estate with sales hitting £115 million in the past nine months alone.   These sales have included buildings such as Lincoln’s Inn Fiends in London, the former home of the Land Registry offices.

However, before you get out your chequebook and pen it does of course pay to do your research.  Property experts have warned that many of the public buildings on sale could be too dilapidated or large for the novice property developer to take on.

If it’s holiday properties you’re after then maybe you’d like to consider a cottage situated next to the Tate in picturesque and sought-after St Ives in Cornwall.  This will set you back a paltry £150,000.

Investment analysts at Stock Market Review are doling out a lot of encouragement to house and property hunters advising them to keep an eye on the list of buildings that are put up for sale each month.  A post on their website read “People who want to renovate a former public building into a modern residential home could scoop a bargain if what they want does not sell well in the auction room”.

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Going Going Gone!

by Sarah Halloran

If you are thinking of buying a property at auction it’s a great time to do so.  There are a huge amount of opportunities on the market right now and more and more people are turning to auctions in order to sell a property quickly or snap up a bargain.  The slow market and increasing number of houses being repossessed has resulted in a dramatic surge in auction sales and it’s good know the advantages as well as the risks involved with buying a property this way.

Where to Look

You can find out about local and national auctions through estate agents, newspapers, and our online property auctions directory.  Many auctions are also advertised by the roadside so look out for signs advertising local auctions.  If you are buying in a new area it is a good idea to do some research before you decide which auctions to attend.  There is plenty of information online that can assist you so that you don’t make any hasty decisions.

On the Day of Auction

Before you head off to the auction house, it’s a good idea to call up to make sure any property you are interested in bidding on has not already been sold or has been withdrawn.  You should also ensure you have your deposit to hand – many auction houses accept cash or cheques, but it’s best to check beforehand.  You will normally need 2 forms of identification in order to register.

Once you have been issued with your bidding number you’re ready to get started.  If you are interested in a particular lot it’s important to stay calm once bidding commences.  You should already have a maximum price that you are prepared to pay for the property and make sure you stick to this figure.  Many people get carried away by the bidding process and have bid well over the odds as a result.  It’s a good idea to gauge interest in the property before you start bidding yourself.

All lots up for auction will have a reserve price which is the minimum price the sells is prepared to accept on a property.  This figure is not disclosed, but if bidding doesn’t reach this figure the property owner may well decide not to sell on the day for anything less.  However, the guide price (that is the price the property is expected to sell for) should give you a rough idea of what the reserve price may be and hopefully this figure is in line with what you are prepared to pay.  Otherwise you may be in for some touch negotiations with the buyer or lose out on the property completely.

Tips for Bidding at Auction

Buying or selling a property at auction has a host of benefits and is becoming more and more popular across the UK.  As long as you stick to the golden rules below you should find the process enjoyable and very rewarding.

  • Always research the property you are interested in fully
  • Make sure you have your finances in order and the required deposit (usually 10%)
  • Get to the auction house early to register and take stock of the environment
  • When bidding commences, don’t get carried away – remember your budget!
  • Bidding can be intimidating so try to stay calm and focused

More information on property auctions in the UK can be found in the resources section on The Big Property
List website.

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Property & the Internet: a history of unfulfilled potential…

by admin

Ever since the property industry made its first bold steps online, the possibilities offered have been a gift for sellers and buyers alike.  From basic search to widgets, from Google Maps integration to social media engagement, pioneers in the property world have seized upon digital developments to reap the benefits of their “revolutionary” vision.   But how much of this has truly been revolutionary?

Online Property has never lived up to expectations

Every so often, we’re promised a real game-changer, but in almost all cases the changes are superficial and the game seems to stay the same.  Recently, there’s been a lot of excitement over both Google and Tesco venturing into the industry.  Again, we were led to believe this would herald a new era in online property sales.   Again, we were disappointed.

For as long as the big players in the property world (old and new) invest their time and money into window dressing, we will always fail to address the issues that really need our attention: significantly reducing the stress and hassle people experience when buying a home, making the whole process quicker and easier, restoring trust in estate agents, dragging intimidating property auctions into the 21st century, and ending gazumping forever.

These issues cut to the heart of what matters to buyers. They should also make us question how we, as an industry, use the Internet not to simply promote properties but also to close the deal.

This is what I had in mind when I created Click to Purchase – a transactional platform that enables people to buy property online at the click of a button or via real-time auction.  There’s no excessive haggling or negotiating.  No recurrent visits to the agent’s office.  No back room deals after an offer has been placed.  As soon as a bid is accepted, the contract is immediately exchanged online. It’s like e-commerce for property.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I was told “no-one will ever buy property online”.  But the platform has already been active in the commercial market for several months.  During this time, it has generated sales in excess of £15 million and thrived despite the financial squeeze.  There is obviously a hunger for this kind of innovation from buyers and I’m now hoping for this success to be shared across the residential market.

Very soon, all estate agents across the UK will have the option to invite their customers to buy via Click to Purchase.  Now, I believe this really is something special.  A game-changer.  Dare I say, revolutionary?

Author Biography: Neil Singer

Neil Singer has worked in the commercial property industry for over 25 years. In recent years he has been inspired by the power of the Internet and its use in business.  His passion for applying new technologies to traditional processes led him to create the Click to Purchase platform. Please visit the Click to Purchase website ( and follow him on Twitter.

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